Streamy, a very new beta startup, has proven to be more difficult than several prominent bloggers originally thought. I have been testing the development since Friday and awoke today to the news that Streamy is everything from a Digg competitor to a doomed social networking site. I was working late Friday, when the founders of Streamy Jonathan Gray and Donald Mosites messaged me to demo their innovation. Streamy is a beautifully designed site with an intuitive Web 2.0 interface. Streamy users can share, view, filter and drag-and-drop news stories, while communicating via a very slick chat module. On the surface, Streamy appears to be a "next generation" news networking site - but is it?Getting to the crux of
What Can It Do?
The UI at Streamy is simple and fairly intuitive. Users land on the start page looking at a basic three column layout tabbed with start, streams, people, profile and options. The start page is dominated by "What's Hot Today" content and graphic links to suggest or save feeds in each category. Users can change this view by navigating across 11 news topics, from arts to video games. In this aspect Streamy is not really differentiated from sites like Digg, Netscape or other news sites. What does differentiate Streamy though is the combination of "function tabs", the sharing zones and the chat interface. These function fields and sharing zones do the following:
Streams - Saved, shared, comments, friend's shared streams, the subscription finder, saves - filters and create a filter
People - Friends, groups, status stream, friends of, location, profile editor, create a group and send an invitation
Profile - Accounts, subscriptions, comments, personal info, image, groups, friends, website launch, IM and etc.
Options - Streamy configuration including; environment, password, streamy theme and several enable options
Sharing Zones - Drop the dragged news to save, email or save the stories
This utility is a simple reorganization of the way we do things on other sites, but the drag and drop capability potentially speeds navigation and promises great sharing/communication capability. Accessing and manipulating stories is really what Streamy is all about and functions like this can easily go viral.
The personalization aspect is present, but secondary to the user's ability to communicate directly while sharing stories. In a nutshell - users can talk while dragging and dropping news into any number of fields from the chat module to group discussions. In the screenshot below I demonstrate Streamy's drop zones, dragging aspect, subscription finder and interactive chat module.
Point of contention - Streamy inside Flock with Me.dium sidebar
So, what is it?
Streamy is the product of two very talented programmers whose innovation is unfortunately caught in the midst of a blog frenzy. It is wholly inappropriate to label Streamy as anything like a Digg contender this early, and the resultant elevated expectations will only retard the product's progress. A similar destiny befell Flock when it was released and dozens of others as well. Streamy is a highly functional social news networking startup. Users have almost unparalleled on-site communication with the flexible chat interface and excellent customization tools. Streamy is a "preview" of a next generation social news networking site. What else could it be - the filtering aspect (which Don told me was the heart of the vision) is largely dependent on multi-user input.
Sharing Elena Sanrtarelli with friend DJ - gotta love day stamps
Streamy has great potential because of the power of Ajax and the news portal. Don showed me innumerable ways in which the drag and drop can be utilized to share, save and otherwise disperse news. The site is quite elegant - almost beautiful aesthetically - and their spatial organization is superb. The pop up versions of the selected news stories combined with browsing buttons, makes Streamy superior to nearly all news networks and especially Digg.
The chat module is really what sets Streamy apart. Even though a module like this would be a redundancy on other apps, it is a valuable instant communication and transfer tool on a viral news service like Streamy.
Streamy has a big problem in "the degree" of differentiation it has from other sites. My argument with Don is represented in the screens showing Flock and Me.dium, and I used them to illustrate that I could effectively do anything Streamy can do elsewhere. Streamy is not far enough along to get a true measure of its filtering capability, but it is evident that social news, drag and drop and chatting is not going to rock the civilized world. The navigation is fair, but a pretty steep learning curve detracts from discoverability - as Josh Catone and I discovered earlier today. The demo helps very little and a few clicks lead to dead ends all-together. Essentially, the site needs user feedback to be able to live up to their claims of "semantic" and advanced filtering.
Browse friends feed and stream menu
This is a shoestring development by two very talented developers, but it is not Joost or the iPhone - nor does it have the backing to be like that yet. Streamy is simply not ready for predictions this early in the game (Digg competitor or your new start page?). However, if they don't differentiate themselves more - and soon - then they may well become just the next "flash in the pan" startup. It is not really good news when neither of the developers can substantially describe their vision or plan of development (as was the case).
After all this, how would I describe Streamy? It's a promising news networking site currently in private beta testing.